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Eloquent and worldly

Jose Gonzalez
Pabst Theatre
Milwaukee, WI
Mar. 18, 2008
Jose Gonzalez Jose Gonzalez

Story and photos by Matt Schwenke

Like the breath of air that dusts off an old record, Jose Gonzalez' gentle vocal styling uncovers a sound that is timeless, yet, when combined with compelling, though sometimes vague, lyrics and his classical/Latin-inspired acoustic guitar ability, the focus becomes the shimmering illumination of the falling dust instead of replicating a vintage sound.

With a low voice that is often delivered in whispers, Jose Gonzalez, a native of Sweden born to parents who emigrated from Argentina, quietly out-sold his first-floor billing at the Pabst Theatre and nearly filled all of the second level in support of his sophomore release In Our Nature (2007). Mainly a solo act, Gonzalez also utilized some minimal percussion and backing vocals from two supporting musicians, most notably in the anti-war title track from his new album and in the Latin shake of "Remain" from his debut Veneer (2003), where the stomping of an empty guitar case took the place of a bass drum. While the overall sound of Gonzalez is generally light and quiet, as in his performances of the hits "Teardrop" and "Crosses," his penchant for music that is more abrasive, he previously played in a punk band, was evident in the rousing "Lovestain."

As Gonzalez humbly talked to the crowd, often cutting himself short of telling a story in between songs in fear of boring the crowd with talk, he did manage to reveal some of his inspiration for songs that ranged from "a children's song with sort of a black context" and "a song about senseless consumerism, which is something I'm a part of." Eloquently crafted, Gonzalez' musical offerings are of a worldly nature and told volumes on their own.
Jose Gonzalez Jose Gonzalez

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